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Re-Trace Adkins A Hit With Carnival

The last time Trace Adkins was on a cruise ship, it was not a happy time. The country music star and a man who impersonated him went nose-to-nose on the Norwegian Pearl, Trace AdkinsAdkins got off at the next stop (Tampa) and checked himself into rehab.

That was early in 2014.

After going through recovery, as alcoholics often do, he went back to work and last weekend in Dallas he performed a free concert that was sponsored by Carnival. No ship. No impersonator. No problem. This was the Ultimate Cowboys Fan Fest and both kinds of cowboys participated…Adkins and Darren Woodson, who used to play for the local football team when it was a Super Bowl champion (three times).

When people as famous and presumably as wealthy as Trace Adkins make headlines for the wrong reasons, the public generally is reluctant to be sympathetic, no matter who’s at fault. People who have had to deal with alcoholism, directly or through family or friends, are more inclined to be more understanding…and are happy when it appears the fallen stars have recovered, so to speak.

And if those people also like country music then they, like us, are glad to see Trace Adkins back in the saddle, as they say. The fact that last weekend’s event was cruise-connected is an indication that he’s not reluctant to go back to cruising and that cruising’s not reluctant to embrace him again.

Maybe everybody wins.

In the news…

• The Cavern Club among upogrades to Norwegian Epic after three-week dry-dock
• Baltimore man cruises for 1,000th day on 139th time in 12 years on a Carnival ship
• Oceania upgrading top tier suites before launch of Sirena (formerly Ocean Princess)

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Carnival Victory
5 nights
January 4, 2016
Miami (return): Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios
Inside: $289
Cost per day: $57
www.carnival.com

Frequency of lightning at sea

Friends and cruise writing colleagues of ours, Harry and Joan Shattuck of Houston, just returned from two weeks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America’s flagship. During their cruise, the ship was hit by lightning, which you would think happens about as often as planes are hit by lightning.

Almost never, right?

Yesterday, Cruise Fever reported that the Disney Magic lost power in the Gulf of Mexico and was “dead in the water” after a passenger reported a huge puff of smoke near the bow preceded the power failure.

Again, it doesn’t  happen often.

However, we were surprised when our friends the Shattucks discovered while talking to the Holland America captain that this was “only the second time” this had happened when he was on a ship.

Only?

Perhaps these things happen more often than we think!

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Carnival Victory
5 nights
February 5, 2015
Miami (return): Freeport, Little Stirrup Cay, Nassau 
Inside: $179
Cost per day: $35
www.carnival.com

Elton John And 88 Keys

 

A few nights ago, we were entertained by Elton John, who has been entertaining his fans for longer than most people have been alive. He wasn’t as good as he used to be…he was better. Where else can you find somebody who makes music on 88 keys and 67-year-old vocal chords for two and a half hours without stopping?

Ah yes, 88 Keys

That’s the name of one of the shows on the Carnival Freedom. It’s a group that doesn’t make either headlines or much money. Seeing and hearing them is free once you’re on the Elton-2ship (you could take a short cruise for what it costs to see Elton John), and yes, it is hard to equate dollar value when there’s no charge.

The performers in 88 Keys were good, of course, because you don’t play for hundreds of people if you aren’t good, even when the audience is captive by a vehicle with not as many options as on land. As the title implies, it’s a piano show accompanied by a lot of singing and dancing, since there are eight participants and only one piano.

What we found especially interesting was the warm-up act. Usually, there aren’t warm-up acts for shows like this on cruise ship, but this one had Seth Gibson. He, too, played the piano and sang and warming up was a plug for his own show, at a piano on another deck. He was very good, perhaps better than the talents in 88 Keys, good enough that we later headed to the piano bar.

While 88 Keys featured the music of Billy Joel, Elton John, Ray Charles, Carole King and much more…Seth Gibson played what his listeners asked for, the way dueling pianists do when they are two. Something else made his show especially compelling. All eight members in 88 Keys showed up, just as part of the audience, and joined him for a song or two. Whether it was staged or impromptu, it was a nice touch.

During his show, Gibson played and sang songs from many artists who are infinitely more famous. And in setting up one piece, this is what he said:

“There are many great piano players…but Elton John is the best piano player in the world.”

Gibson should have been where we were on Saturday night. He’d have been able to say something else…

“I told you so.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise news and views

Carnival Victory
5 nights
December 8, 2014
Miami (return): Freeport, Little Stirrup Cay, Nassau
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $39
www.carnival.com

A Sunken Cunard Ship not called Titanic

For those of us who enjoy being on ocean liners, there’s nothing like an old story about a ship…or a new story about an old ship.

Today’s topic: Cunard’s Lusitania.

In the realm of ship tragedies, this is something of a forgotten example. For one thing, the Titanic sank first (1914) and anything that’s first is automatically more notorious, whatever the subject. For another thing, 1,198 souls perished on the Lusitania, about Lusitania300 fewer than on the Titanic, and the Lusitania — while smaller, older and faster than the Titanic — was the first of the “floating palaces” yet never had the same celebrity cache. And the Lusitania didn’t hit an iceberg…it was hit by a torpedo. Many believe her demise at the guns of a German U-boat was part of the reason the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, three years after it began.

This all happened 100 years ago next May, and Cunard will memorialize the event with a cruise from Southampton (return) that will pass where the Lusitania lies, 11 miles off the coast of Ireland. It’s called Lusitania Remembered, and passengers on the Queen Victoria will be able to attend a special ceremony on shore in Cobh, Ireland and commemorative dinner that night (May 7) on the ship

One of the passengers will be Eric Sauder.

He is an historian who was commissioned by Cunard to create a temporary exhibition of Lusitania artifacts and memorabilia. A former tour guide on the old Queen Mary in Long Beach, he has written two books on the Lusitania and has dived to the sunken Queen Victoriaship. If nothing else, he’ll be fascinating. The Queen Victoria embarks on her historic journey on May 3. Among ship aficionados and story tellers, only the superstitious wouldn’t want to be on her when she leaves Southampton.

Today at portsandbows.com: Great prices for the Caribbean

Carnival Victory
5 nights
October 27, 2014
Miami (return): Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Nassau
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $43
www.carnival.com

Cruise News, Notes and Questions

Did you know…

That Carnival is the only cruise line with two ships, year-round, operating from New Orleans? The city invested $2.3 million renovating and expanding the Erato Street Cruise Terminal, including swapping gangways with the Julia Street Terminal to make embarkation and embarkation easier for a greater volume of passengers. Guess which terminal is home to Carnival's two ships, the Dream and the Elation?

That Windstar will have a "Private Event" on next year's itineraries designed to connect guests Florida Georgia Linewith local culture, and that they're free? All that's being said about identifying the Private Events is that they "include dinner under the stars in the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus" and "dining on the beach of a private motu in Bora Bora."

That whoever booked the Norwegian for a promotion featuring the country duo Florida Georgia Line missed the boat? The group's big hit is called "Cruise" and rather than calling the 5-day trip from Miami on the Pearl the "Cruise Cruise" it's being promoted as the first-ever "Florida Georgia Line This Is How We Cruise." Now there's a mouthful…

That Carnival's new program for kids — called Camp Ocean — was the result of recommendations of experts in child education, children's media and "play" and that the end result is more than 200 new activities based on marine education for ages 2 to 11? The names of some of the activities are Sea Creature Discovery, Marine Life Trivia and Create a Penguin from Oreos. One expert on the panel…a loyal customer who's a mother of two.

Today at portsandbows.com: World Cup on the high seas

Carnival Victory
5 nights
May 3, 2014
Miami (return): Grand TurkHalf Moon CayNassau
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $39
www.carnival.com

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